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I notice that many of the digital stations broadcasting in high definition are broadcasting content with 4:3 aspect ratios and are inserting black bars on the sides to fill out the 16:9 aspect ratio of the HD frame. As a result, my set top box (Sony HD200) and my HD Plasma "think" they are receiving 16:9 content (which they are, although parts of that content being broadcast are the black bars) and, therefore, none of the preset Wide mode options available in the STB and Plasma monitor can be used to cause the 4:3 image to fill the 16:9 screen of my monitor (I get an on-screen message such as "The aspect ratio of this 720p signal cannot be changed"). I can stretch the picture manually, but this is not an ideal solution because it takes a few minutes, and the settings remain in place when I change channels (therefore, if I switch to another station that is showing full 16:9 content, the image will remain stretched and the sides of the content will be cut off).


This must be something that every HD plasma owner has had to deal with when viewing HD digital content. Do you just live with the bars, or is there another way to deal with this problem that I am missing? Tonight was the first night I have been set up to receive HD and, so far, am a bit perplexed about this issue.


Ron
 

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One way is to switch to composite or s-video output for non-HD programs - this is output in 480i mode and can be stretched. You are not losing anything since any 4:3 programming is not in HD resolution anyway.
 

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Here in Boston area I get 8 local stations that broadcast digital signal (I am using indoor Silver Sensor antenna connected to Sammy TS160 box). Only few prime time programs are HD and therefore truly 16:9 format. The rest is just SD 4:3 material upconverted to 1080i and delivered to my home with black bars to fill the 16:9 area. I also get these local programs from DirecTV (obviously not upconverted). The OTA digital signal is so much better than DirecTV (no compression artefacts).


Here's what I do to eliminate the black bars (and potential burn-in) problem for digital but non-HD broadcasts. I set my Sammy box to output 4:3 format - that is, I select as my TV screen format 4:3. I also set it to "Zoom". The signal goes to the composite input on my Panny (I do not see any improvement using S-video). Panny is set to "Just" mode and here we go - no black bars. I use this 4:3 fooling mode on my DirecTV STB box for all (i.e., digital and analog) non-HD programs. For true HD source I use the VGA (PC) input on my Panny and the STB needs to be set to 16:9 screen size.


Hope this helps.

Andrzej
 

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I forgot to mention one important thing. The picture on my Panny is NOT missing anything at the top and at the bottom despite using the "Zoom" mode on STB. The "Just" mode on the Panny is indeed clever.

Andrzej
 

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Yup, I use the same workaround as Andrzej. It's still a pain in the neck, but it works. Those guys at the network need a good smacking around, or maybe the network should buy them some widescreen TV's to take home or both (carrot & stick) or something.
 

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Ron,

I have a Sony HD200 and Fujitsu P50. For 4 x 3 HD broadcasts, I sometimes set the HD200 to output 480p (use the output format button on the remote or front panel) which the P50 can then expand to full screen with several wide and zoom modes.

Charles
 

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For those fortunate souls with either a 433cmx or a 503cmx and an Aurora TVP-1000 card, there is a new firmware update available (v1.30) on Aurora's website ( www.auroramultimedia.com ) that adds all sorts of "stretch" modes that can be used on the VGA/component input. We beat up Paul Harris pretty bad until he added this feature :)D)! I too have suffered from the sidebars-on-16:9 format OTA signals problem and I'm not happy with any of the "workarounds" tauted above, especially any that force me to use the s-video/composite outputs.


The HD200 will automatically enable the 4:3 stretch modes for SD satellite content but, as noted, it "assumes" the OTA signals are all 16:9 already so it disables my favorite "Panorama" non-linear stretch mode. Now, with this update, I can setup the TVP-1000 to automatically stretch non-HD OTA content. Yipee!


It gets even better. Aurora is going to start shipping their new cards next week that also include this OTA stretch mode AND both cards have HDCP-compliant DVI inputs that also can handle PC formats. One card, the A303, is basically a PDA-5002 card that adds HDCP compatibility. The other is the TVP-1000+ which adds a DVI-HDCP interface and an extra NTSC tuner.


When I get my new TVP-1000+ I will be happy to let somebody take my existing TVP-1000 (with the 1.30 update...) off my hands for one or two peanuts. PM me if anybody is interested.


-- Gary
 

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Gary,

that's cool that you are getting your HDCP-compliant DVI input on Aurora card. I have a question: are you really convinced that you will need this HDCP-compliant stuff before you buy a new and improved plasma in a few years?


Andrzej
 

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Anything I buy in the future will already have HDCP. What this gives me now is an all digital connection from the HD200 to the display. The "extra" features like the OTA 4:3 picture stretch is just iceing on the cake!


-- Gary
 
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